Decision Making is Education
“Scheduling the Mind-Set-Game”
On the surface, the foundation of scheduling may seem to be just a set of numbers and logistics. However, the core of scheduling reflects a person’s (or company’s) awareness of, readiness for, and willingness to accomplish set goals. Without being aware of the significance of scheduling, without being prepared physically and mentally to take up the role, and without the willingness to cooperate or follow through would defeat the purpose of scheduling.
Scheduling plays a vital role in many industries. For example, takeoffs and landings at an airport runway and other transportation systems, production lines for automobile and other manufacturing systems, all depend on precise and reliable scheduling and implementation to meet objectives.
However, just like in real life, scheduling does not always work according to plan.
One real life daily example of scheduling can be exemplified with my recent experience at the doctors, which I’m sure you can all relate to. Sitting at the doctor’s office before the long festive holiday and waiting to be called on, I suddenly noticed in between my fits of sneezing and coughing that I had already waited 45 minutes. Having avoided a near collision on the road, painstakingly found a substitute to pick up my daughter from school, and willfully convinced myself that I could still blend into the cosmo-chic of downtown Central despite being clad in sweats and baseball cap and zero makeup as I rushed out the door, all the mental and physical preparations I had made in order to meet my scheduled appointment went right down the drain.
I was aware of being responsible to arrive on time so as not to intrude on the schedule of other patients, I had made preparations which deviated from my normal plans and behaviors, plus I was willing to subject myself to injections or other (to me) harsh medical treatments, yet an hour later I was still waiting at the doctor’s office along with 8 other patients.
Scheduling does not always work according to plan.
Ironically, my second job in television was production scheduling. I was a production scheduler for a Public Broadcasting Station (PBS) in Boston, where one of my tasks was to schedule documentaries and other programs to be dubbed (i.e., tape-recorded, when tapes were still considered state of the art!) upon the request of producers, production assistants, or anyone who needed copies of a show produced by the station. I also had at my disposal a team of engineers who I could assign to make these dubs; therefore, to meet client requests, my job was to schedule a time according to machine availability for engineers to make recordings to meet deadlines.
I took my job seriously, much like a filial Chinese daughter towards familial responsibilities, but three months into my job I noticed that these engineers had not followed my scheduling efforts at all, but that they had found their own ways to complete the dubs much earlier than my scheduled slots. And they had never notified me of the early completed dubs.
I was young, naïve, and inexperienced. All I knew was that I was aware of my responsibility to my job and clients, I was prepared to work overtime and to exert time and energy into maximizing efficiency for clients, to be fair to the engineers, and to maintain goodwill for the department, plus I was willing to make adjustments along the process if necessary.
However, sometimes, or even most of the time, even if we are aware, ready, and willing, situations don’t always work according to “schedules”.
In hindsight, was it really so bad that the engineers at the PBS television station took the initiative to divert a little? After all, the tapes were dubbed and clients were happy at the end.
And would it have been fatal if I were 5 minutes late for my doctor’s appointment rather than nearly killing myself to arrive precisely on the dot?
“We can’t plan life. All we can do is be available for it.”
Twenty years ago I thought I would spend my entire life in one acting career, fifteen years ago I thought I would only fall in love and get married once in my life, and ten years ago I thought I would remain single again forever and never be able to find someone worth having a family with.
Hundreds of lessons and many years later, I have learned that life cannot be scheduled. And that even if we are aware, ready, and willing, that we still need to renew the process of learning all over again to meet future life challenges.
I am also learning to take things in stride, to go with the flow, to expect the unexpected while preparing myself to take on whatever comes my way.
Some people believe that in order to excel we need to establish and abide by rigid schedules towards meeting our visions and missions.
I tend to go with the people who say that attempts to diminish our fear of uncertainty with monotonous schedules may only curb creativity and intellectual risks. Remaining flexible and fluid with the strength to confront, sometimes, even a complete process of renewal (of learning) makes life much more interesting and meaningful.
Decision making, growth, and life are emergent, ever-evolving, and changing. The only thing that we can schedule is the constant of learning. The only thing that can carry us over through one hurdle to the next is not by rigidly following “schedules”, but to adapt to life situations through the mind-set game of progressive cycles of continuously being aware, prepared, and willing.